Brittan back in the fight

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Lance Brittan, the 1999 Wrangler Bullfights world champion, is returning to the action to compete in the Bullfighters Only. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LANCE BRITTAN)
Lance Brittan, the 1999 Wrangler Bullfights world champion, is returning to the action to compete in the Bullfighters Only. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LANCE BRITTAN)

1999 world champion joins the ranks of Bullfighters Only

DENVER – Lance Brittan is known as one of the greatest freestyle bullfighters to ever play the game.

Now the 42-year-old legend hopes to regain his championship form as he returns to the sport he loves. It’s been about a decade since Brittan last took on a fighting bull in competition, but he’s ready to step into the Bullfighters Only arena April 22 in in Ada, Okla.

“What’s so attractive to me is the whole man-vs.-beast mentality that comes with it,” said Brittan, who retired from professional bullfighting three years ago and has focused on running his business, Brittan Construction, in Windsor, Colo. “If something goes wrong, there’s no one to blame but myself. I like showing off, I guess.”

He’s damn good at it, too. Brittan will be the only man on the Bullfighters Only tour that was part of the Wrangler Bullfight Tour, which was associated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association through 2000. He earned the world championship in 1999 when he was just 25 years old.

“I was fortunate to win one of the last world titles they gave in the Wrangler Bullfights,” he said. “Competing against Mike Matt, Greg Rumohr, Loyd Ketcham, Rob Smets and Jerry Norton was amazing. To compete against 14 gold buckles and go in there and win is really special to me.

Because of his expertise in the field, Brittan was one of the instructors at the Bullfighters Only Development Camp from March 11-12 in San Bernadino, Calif. That experience opened a new door for the veteran bullfighter to walk through.

“After instructing that D-Camp in San Bernadino, I got the bug again,” he said. “I’ve watched a lot of BFO videos, and I think they’re great events. I’d like to see what I could get done there.”

His first opportunity will come during the Bullfighters Only stand-alone bullfight at the Pontotoc County Agriplex in Ada. The last time he stepped in front of a bull was while he served as a protection bullfighter during the rodeo in Elk City, Okla., in September 2014.

“What I’m looking forward to is showing the old style of what it was like to fight bulls and make rounds,” Brittan said.

The basics of freestyle bullfighting haven’t changed over the decades. The foundation is staying as close to the animal as possible while also trying to remain out of harm’s way. It’s not an easy task, especially given the bulls, which are bred to be part of the fight. The more aggressive the bull is, the better the opportunity for the bullfighter to gain points.

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

“I’ve thought that Lance retired at the top of his game, that he went out when he was one of the best guys going down the road,” said Chuck Swisher, one of the top-rated bullfighters in the BFO. “It’ll be great to go up against somebody like Lance.

“Lance is one of my heroes, a true legend. His style is a lot different than a lot of us younger bullfighters, but I have no doubt he’ll still be as solid as ever.”

Bullfighters Only regenerated the buzz about freestyle bullfighting a couple of years ago and is producing events all across the country. While much has changed in the years since he competed in the Wrangler Bullfights, Brittan sees a bright future for the sport thanks to the BFO.

“I think the BFO is great,” he said. “It primarily focuses on the bullfighter and his talents. The entertainment value is priceless. People want to see wrecks, and I guarantee you there will be some wrecks.”

It’s all part of the action-packed shows that are produced by Bullfighters Only, and Brittan is ready to be back in the mix.


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